The thing I love the most about The Son-Rise Program is that when the child is exclusive, we join them in their world. We don’t try to stop their unique behaviours but instead see them as a way to connect, accept, and build a bridge to their amazing world.
One of the most memorable moments of joining as a volunteer, was when Robert used to cover a table with a blanket, crawl under and be in his own little camp for up to 30 minutes at a time.
At first I would sit outside Robert’s little camp trying to distract him or make conversation with him. I judged myself that he wasn’t playing with me because he either didn’t like me or I was boring.
I went on to learn that part of his personality was to be exclusive and avoid connecting with people and that he was doing it to take care of himself in an over stimulating world.
I had witnessed Robert doing other isms such as spinning in circles but this was different and not so obvious to me. Once learning it was an ism, Anna suggested that I joined Robert by setting up my own table and hiding under it and then finding something fascinating about the experience that Robert could be getting out of it.
I went in to my next session and Robert hid under the table with his blanket just like before. I got my own blanket, put it over another table and crawled under. It was a very sunny day and I remember a streak of sunlight coming in from the window and streaming through the fibers of the blanket.
There I was under my blanket crouched up in a ball and on my hands and knees and looking for something to enjoy about the experience. Sure enough, as the sunlight shone through, I saw the most incredible sight. Thousands of specks of dust began to glisten and dance in the stream of sunlight like gold. I was completely in awe of how beautiful it was and became mesmerized by watching the dust.
It was so peaceful, relaxing and fun to be under there, not having to do anything but enjoy the moment. I honestly can’t tell you if I was underneath there for 5 minutes or 45 minutes but I do know that while I was under there, Robert had come out of his camp and decided that he wanted to come into my camp.
This was a child who was not close to me, spent a large part of our time together running away from me, screaming, throwing blocks at me or peeing on me and he had crawled into my camp and snuggled up next to me and was lying there with a big smile on his face. At that moment, I understood the power of joining and knew how key it was to connecting with Autistic children.